How Small Businesses Can Navigate the Facebook Ads Boycott

Written by Bailey Revis

In 2020, it seems that businesses must pivot each day to respond to new information and challenges. Our world continues to navigate a pandemic, demand social justice, advocate for civil rights, and, here in America, face an election that will decide our next president. Many companies call for change in the face of these issues, both online and in-person. The latest criticism is directed at social media giant Facebook, amid pressure for stricter regulations against hate speech on their platforms. 

Wait, There’s a Facebook Boycott?

Civil rights groups have recently called for companies to stop advertising on Facebook, which makes up 98% of Facebook’s revenue. But why? 

Boycott supporters accuse Facebook of allowing users to post racist content and hate speech, seemingly without repercussions, and many people have had enough. Now, the battle between policing every piece of content and free speech is in the spotlight. 

Who’s Pulling Ads

Many companies have shown their support for the #StopHateForProfit movement recently. Over 800 companies have indefinitely pulled ads from Facebook, including major brands like Coca-Cola, Ford, Patagonia, and Unilever to show their solidarity with civil rights groups that demand Facebook tighten their regulations on the platform’s content. Further, many boycotting companies vow to only return to the platform if tangible changes are made.

Facebook’s Response

Facebook generates $250 million in ad sales each year, which means existing solely as a social media platform is not feasible – its ad revenue is the heartbeat of the company. In response to the boycott, Mark Zuckerberg met with #StopHateForProfit key leaders. They gave him their demands, including a third-party auditing program to filter and remove hate speech from Facebook’s platforms. They also call for Facebook to hire a C-suite executive with civil rights experience as a voice in high-level leadership, and refund advertisers whose ads ran next to offensive posts or misinformation. At the time of this blog, Facebook has not publicly answered if it will agree to these demands, and the boycott leaders left the meeting with Zuckerberg frustrated.

What Should Small Businesses Do?

While major household names like Verizon, The North Face, Microsoft, and Adidas can easily press pause on Facebook platform advertising, where do small businesses fit in the boycott? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most small companies nationwide still feel the effects of stay-at-home orders and the adjustment to small phased openings. Big corporations can operate through this turbulence without running ads on social media, but small businesses cannot afford the same luxury. 

Brand juggernauts like Coca-Cola do not run lead generation campaigns to generate more business. Instead, they rely on their brand awareness ads to compete with other soft drink companies. A small business relies on cost-effective Facebook advertising to bolster sales.

Questions to consider before you and your marketing pull your Facebook ads:

  • How hard will it be to resume advertising after the boycott ends?
  • Will our lead funnel survive without social media advertising?
  • What other channels can we focus on in the meantime?

Reallocating Your Ad Spend

If you are considering tweaking your ad spending, the answer may be to explore another social media network or advertising platform. You can invest in Google Advertising for low competition and specific keywords. If you are already running Google ads, you can assign more money to your ads or spin up a remarketing campaign. Additionally, Youtube is valuable to showcase your video ads as you pause Facebook or Instagram video ads.

The call for social change is at the heart of the Facebook boycott. Many businesses are opting out of paid advertising dollars and investing in organizations that align with their hearts and missions. You can set aside a portion, or all, of your ad spend for the month and donate it to organizations that align with your company’s mission, vision, and values.

Navigating Social Media and Your Digital Strategy

You can bet that change will always be a constant in your business and your digital marketing strategy. As we navigate these circumstances, whether through a global pandemic or a call for social action, your marketing team should be able to pivot with only a moment’s notice.

If you are unsure how to navigate this social media boycott or if you need a more effective digital marketing plan, give us a shout. At PHOS, we stay on top of trends, industry news, and the latest ways to adjust your strategy to meet your needs and those of our ever-changing world. 

Bailey Revis

As an Inbound Marketing Executive, Bailey implements hands-on practices and innovative thinking to build strong client relationships and deliver valuable content.